DIY building an RC plane from Depron
The idea to build my own quadcopter drone, or my own RC plane, has always been tempting. My main issue was the lack of a dedicated space to build, and more importantly, a space to fly.
I have not solved these, but at long last, I have started building my own plane (with the help of my kids :o)!
The Youtube video that got me started (in French, but see similar videos in English that also helped me) is:
Cessna 172 characteristics
- 8.07m lenght from tip of the proppeler to the tail
- 11.02m wingspan
- 2.54m to the break between wing flaps to ailerons
- 3.45m tail width
- 2.72m height to the tip of the tail
- 2.18m width between the wheels
- 101cm 1/8th length
- 159cm 1/7th
- 50cm 1/7th
List of hardware
Some of this is optionnal, eg to make the plane looks good, some of it is tooling that can be reused for other projects.
- Depron / Extruded Polystyrene Foam Sheets 6mm 80x60cm 8x (24.10€)
- Reinforced adhesive tape 50mm (17.06€)
- Red polypropylene adhesive tape 48mm x 66m (7.95€)
- White polypropylene adhesive tape 48mm x 66m (7.95€)
- Steel cable 1mm x 20m (6.18€)
- Nylon clevis keper clip x20 (15.0€)
- Nylon hinge (6.00€)
- Wheels 64mm 2x (10.47€)
- Carbone fiber plate 3.0mm x 0.5mm x 1m (1.00€)
- Carbone fiber tube 4.0mm x 1m (6.00€)
- 1000KV Brushless Motor A2212 13T with 30A Brushless ESC Set 1045 Propeller Accessories Kit Mount (25.49€)
- DTXMX Flysky FS-iA6B 2.4GHz receiver (27.99€)
- Micro Servo 9g x5 (14.99€)
- Y extension cables (10.50€)
- Servo tester (5.99€)
Hardware I had for a few years, for my tiny drone
- Jumper T12 multi-protocol Tranceiver
- LiPo 3S 300mAh batteries (I will ideally need to switch to +1000mAh for ~100g batteries for longer flights)
Nearly 3 weeks in the slow process, I discoverd that the plane was weighting already close to 800g without the battery, compared to the supposed ready-to-fly 600g.
- I took a step back and weighted the equivalent of all the hot glue I had used so far; something like 5x20g is added to the plane :o ! That’s bad. So people are using Cyanocrylate (brittle) or dedicated UHU POR like foam glue.
- Then I weighted the white adhesive tape I had used compared to a new one; some aditional 80g where added to the frame! That’s super bad :(
That’s a hard lesson to learn so far in the project. Going from +600 to +800, ie adding 33% more weight is a big issue especially for a beginer trainer airplane.
Now, this has muliple consequences;
Landing wheels where never robust enough, but now with all the extra weight, they are bending way to much, and I had to make them more streight, lossing some of the
Now that’s not all! With all this added weight, the plane is quite tail heavy, and this is also bad. Impossible to fly without adding more weight to the tip; I would need to buy bigger batteries and put them at the very front.
So now, I’ll have to make sure to remove as much of the white adhesive tape, starting with the tail. And I’ll make sure to weight all what I remove to take note of what I am saving their. After that, removing further to the fuselage can help even more with the weight, but won’t play too much with the balance of the plane. Finaly, for the wings I think that I prefer to keep them like that for extra durability, but it will depend of my results with the above weight removal.
In order to move more weight to the front, it could be good to cut and reglue the motor support a centimeter toward the tip, which would move something like 80g. A good win! Just quite destructive, especially since I already cut & reglue it once. In fact, there is probably too much glue to it.
Another option to consider would be to dig into the fuselage to cut through some pieces and remove some of them, especially remove some part that are glued in order to remove the glue with it. But I fear that this would be much more invasive, destructive & maje the airplane more fragile.
But at this stage, it might be better to just fly the plane until I crash it to hard, and build another one from scratch with all this experience aquired.
I was able to shave off ~28g from the tail and the rear of the fuselage. From a balance perspective it’s a game changer.
Other similar DIY videos
I’ll make sure to update this post with pictures of the work in progress.